Jet setting social worker, Sierra Walton, has swapped her life in New York to help children, young people and families in Thorne.
It’s a far cry from working in child protection in a hospital neo natal unit in the Big Apple but Sierra says she is relishing the challenge of being in the small English town – and particularly her experiences of working for the Doncaster Children’s Services Trust.
Having qualified as a social worker at New York University, Sierra says she was relieved that her Masters degree was recognised here which meant she didn’t have to re-train before taking up her post last November.
“The laws and regulations are different here, as well as the obvious social and cultural differences but I am quickly getting to grips with these. Thankfully I get a lot of support here at the Trust, which has made it very easy.
“It’s a great team here in Thorne. I can ask literally anyone if I need help and they respond, even when they are crazy busy.”
Sierra says she is impressed by the way in which everyone works collectively in the Trust, talking and exchanging ideas on a regular basis.
“The Trust is really keen on training and development, too,” says Sierra.
“We are all allowed and encouraged to make time for it as personal development is made a core essential, as is self-care. The managers are very keen for staff to take care of themselves and if anyone has had a difficult day, or a really challenging case, they are encouraged to sit down and talk about it.”
Sierra says she applauds the way in which everyone at the Trust – not just social workers – is child focussed. “Children are the reason we do the job we do and everything should be heard through the child’s voice,” she says.
It’s the direct work with children and families that really inspires Sierra. “If I can be the one positive person in a child’s life I can really make a difference and that’s truly rewarding.”
She recognises that partnership working is also crucial, with organisations such as schools, health and the police, who are a key part of Sierra’s day to day work to support children.
“The whole team around the child is very important. For example, the school sees the child on a daily basis, as well as the parent/s picking the child up. Plus, when our input has finished, the school or health team can monitor the situation going forward and if a problem arises they can refer back to us.”
The Trust prides itself on going that extra mile in supporting its social workers, as Sharon White, Social Work Development Officer, explains.
“We do extra on top of the national requirements,” she said. “”Although it is a requirement that after giving weekly supervision for the first six weeks of an NQSW’s role, it is followed by fortnightly and then monthly supervision, at the Trust we continue to give fortnightly supervision for the full year.
“We also run a six day skills development course, on which day five is devoted to secondary trauma in social work, which is an opportunity to pick up those NQSWs who are struggling with the transition from student into the qualified role and to help them develop coping strategies. We use the funding we receive for appointing NQSWs to plough back into this programme as we have learnt it is invaluable.
“Our NQSW programme is very comprehensive and is recognised far afield. The feedback we get is that prospective NQSWs join us having heard about it.”
As more than half of the Trust’s workforce is made up of social workers, Sharon says it is vitally important to make sure they are well supported.
Doncaster Children’s Services Trust is looking for experienced and newly qualified social workers to join its team. For more information about opportunities at the Trust visit the Trust job page https://dcstrustjobs.co.uk/
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